This week we're going to find out a bit more about London's street food scene with The Shepherds! The Shepherds are a food loving family that run a number of street food events and food businesses around London. The business is run by the three Shepherd sisters Kitty, Alex and Fiorenza, daughters of John Shepherd. Follow them on Instagram to see when they next have a market on.
Tell us about your job. We run food markets across London under the umbrella scheme of the Startisans initiative. Startisans is a family business dedicated to offering start ups and artisan companies specializing in food a virtual and physical platform to test the market with a customer base. Our base is in the trendy Covent Garden area and we hold a drinks Market every Friday known as the VBAD festival. We started in 2005 with our Fine Food Market (a mixture of produce and high quality street food) outside our family food shop; Partridges in Chelsea and in 2008 were asked to bring the concept to the Brunswick Centre. In 2009 we ventured into the City and began to expand the food markets for hungry city workers, setting them up for lunch time; hence people have often credited us as being the first Lunch markets in recent times. We started at New Street Square and have spread to all corners of London, from Chiswick to Canary Wharf.
Do you have any favourite stalls? We love all our startisans! Very hard to choose, but I suppose a special shout out should go to our newest traders who include Mulata Cuisine who do arepas, Pink Cactus who do burritos, Rao Deli who do amazing bánh Mì, Goko who do Korean dumplings, Ebby’s Kitchen who do Köfte, Sim sim who do falafel wraps, The Piadina Project who do Piadina sandwiches, the Rolling Duck who do gourmet duck confit salads and baguettes and Piccolina who do Tigelle, sandwiches with potato bread. The Poutinerie and Souvlaki street are well known traders who have been with us for a while and are firm favorites with the customers.
Why do you like working in the City? What is there not to like?! We love our job because its never boring, setting up a market is like setting up a show, having to ensure everything is ready to go and in tip top condition, as well as getting to try delicious food! We love being at the forefront of the newest food trends and can’t help to feel a little smug at being the first amongst our friends to try out new and exciting dishes! As for working in the city; its amazing. What we love the most is the contrast between the history and the future. New and impressive buildings emerging from a backdrop of the antique landscape of this beautiful town. We love the diversity of this city as well, which we believe is reflected in the food trends that bring.
What is your favourite place to visit in the Square Mile? We can’t decide! we love St Pauls, the ancient winding streets and names, the Geffrey Museum and the Museum of London at the Barbican. I was once walking down Fleet street when I glanced up and saw St Pauls in the morning light. Seeing it there so grand took my breath away and I felt as though I had been transported back in time. I almost expected to see Dr Johnson walk past! I also love the train journey on the circle line coming in. I get so happy looking at the old London tunnels and scenery, its like seeing London through the ages.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Believe it or not its discover London a little more! Whilst walking to New Street Square one time we cut across through Lincon Inn Fields and almost lost track of time having a wander. Its very inspiring and calm to walk down there!
How would you describe your markets to a person who hasn’t visited one before? We would say come and try it for yourself! There is always one of us there supervising and we are always happy to be approached by customers who may not be sure what to try or who would like a tailored experience! Our markets try to encapsulate the diversity of London and we have a whole range of traders from all over the world with their authentic dishes. A trip around our market is like a journey around the world!
- Interview by Deborah Ajia